Philippines says lifting South China Sea oil exploration moratorium a unilateral move

MANILA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The Philippines’ energy minister said on Friday that the government’s move to lift a moratorium on petroleum exploration in the South China Sea was a unilateral decision that China is expected to respect.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, in a virtual media briefing, also said he did not expect the move to affect a memorandum of understanding between the two countries on a possible joint development in the disputed waters as well as joint venture talks among exploration companies.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the moratorium that began in 2014 on petroleum exploration in the South China Sea, paving the way for three projects to resume, and for the energy ministry to award more service contracts.

Reporting by Karen Lema and Enrico Dela Cruz Editing by Ed Davies